pushing the pause button and listening

my mom is spending more and more time in bed.  she rarely opens her eyes, even while she’s eating.  i can talk to her, and she’ll respond, with a tiny movement of her lips. i can tell her stories and read to her, and when i think she’s fallen asleep and i ask her if she wants to hear more, she’ll give the tiniest nod that she’d like me to continue.  days have passed without her painting.  it takes a ton of effort to sit up, and when she does, she leans to the right, with her neck barely able to hold the weight of her head.

the worst of my father comes in the form of yelling and criticism, and an overall negative perspective.  in other words, nothing is right in the his world.  so if you happen to be around him, there’s a very good chance he’s not going to like anything about you, or anything you’re doing to try and help my mom.

“you shouldn’t wear short dresses, manette.  you’re too old”

“mommy doesn’t like her hair pulled back. why does everyone do it wrong?”

“nobody feeds her right…she needs to eat more!”

“she needs your help! why can’t you help her!?”

i so want to spend more time with my mom who i love and care deeply about, but i sometimes i can’t because of my father and the fear that pervades every space.  my reaction is to cry, to be the victim.  but then i remember i have choices.  my action can be to pause.  i can push the pause button and choose a different way of responding to the situation.

so imagine being my father. and seeing the world through his eyes.  i imagine his yelling as his way of yelling at himself, and not at me.

i imagine being alone, without the love of his life, after 63 years of holding her hand, and falling asleep with her by his side, after 67 years of her in his dreams, of 60 years of her delicious cooking, of 20 years of watching her carry and nurture their babies, of 5 years of pushing her in her wheelchair.

and when i can hear all his fears, i suddenly feel the love that whispers beneath, and then his yelling turns to cries, and i understand.

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